Not every threat requires a deadly response. Nevertheless, we might need something to help “even the odds,” so to speak, and give us some degree of control over the situation. Rather than going hands-on, if we can keep our distance, so much the better.
Pepper spray has been one of the go-to options in this regard for quite some time. It works well in many applications, especially if you opt for the streaming delivery model rather than a fog or mist. However, you might sometimes need an even more direct approach.
Thus, the PepperBall was born!
The PepperBall is a small sphere filled with PAVA pepper powder. When launched, it strikes an attacker with enough force to shatter the plastic coating, releasing the powder in a cloud that will hopefully envelop the person.
The company that manufactures PepperBall (PBLifeLite.com) sent me two devices to test and evaluate: the MOBILE Kit and the COMPACT launcher.
The MOBILE Kit
The larger of the two products is the MOBILE Kit. It comes with a launcher, a dozen practice rounds, six PepperBall rounds and three CO2 cartridges. The launcher can hold up to three rounds and fires them one at a time.
The package advertises that this device will launch projectiles upward of 40 feet. It also states that it will provide a 12-foot “pepper irritant cloud,” in addition to forceful-impact stopping power.
My first impression was that this is a fairly large piece of equipment. It weighs 1.4 pounds and runs 9 inches from end to end. The shape reminds me of a flashlight—albeit one with sort of a spotlight-shaped head. To be honest, I felt it was bulky and a bit cumbersome the first time I picked it up.
The projectiles, themselves, are .68 caliber, or about the size of marbles. The purple ones are inert and made of hard plastic. While they can be used for practice as you perfect your aim, I found they would pack quite a punch if used against someone. The red ones are live PepperBalls. Both the purple and red projectiles are packaged six to a tube, and the tubes are prominently labeled.
The launcher is equipped with two LED lights—one on each side of the launcher’s face—providing a stated 350 lumens. It also has a red laser aiming system. The light and the laser are both powered by three AAA batteries, which are included. There’s a small, white tab that prevents the batteries from draining; it’s removed before the device can be used. To replace the batteries, it’s a simple matter of sliding the battery door off to access them. However, batteries aren’t needed to actually fire the weapon, because that operation is gas-powered.
• MOBILE Launcher with dual-beam flashlight and laser
• (6) Live SD PepperBall projectiles
• (12) inert practice projectiles
• (3) 8-gram CO 2 cartridges
• (3) AAA batteries
MOBILE Refill Kit
• (12) Live SD PepperBall projectiles
• (12) inert practice projectiles
• (4) 8-gram CO 2 cartridges
Loading the MOBILE launcher is a two-step process, involving the projectiles, as well as a CO2 cartridge.
Before doing anything, ensure the launcher is set to “safe.” There are three openings on the front of the launcher. The launch chamber is in the middle. Above is where the CO2 cartridge is inserted. Unscrew the cap and slide the cartridge in, with the narrow tip going in first, and then replace the cap by screwing it down tightly. To load the projectiles, unscrew the bottom cap and roll them in. Then, screw the cap on. It’s all very simple and easy.
A good friend of mine has been a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years. He was interested in helping me test these products, so we loaded up and headed over to a private range. (For documentation purposes, it was about 70 degrees [F], partly sunny, and there was a slight, but fairly steady, breeze of about 10 mph.)
We reviewed the instructions one more time and then carefully loaded the MOBILE launcher with three inert practice projectiles. Moving the safety from “safe” to “fire” activates the laser automatically. I took aim on a plastic barrel and depressed the trigger button.
At first, it seemed as though nothing was going to happen; but I discovered you have to press fairly hard to fire the weapon. When it fired, it did so with authority, and it emitted a loud snap! as the round was shot out.
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